November 10, 2009
Chris Patten has signalled his interest in the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy position, something I’m going to give my support to.
If you want to look at important conflicts that Britain has been involved with since the EU’s foundation – Falklands, Kosovo, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. the EU has actively or passively opposed every one, Chris Patten would be the perfect man for turning EU Foreign Policy into a force to be reckoned with.
One of his positions to appreciate the most is his stance on Russia.
When dealing with Russia how about we start with trying to obtain an independent media, independent courts, a multiparty electoral system, and tolerance for dissent? Or perhaps not having a government-backed youth movement whose main purpose is to harass and physically assault members of the opposition? Or perhaps not having one person have total power in the executive and legislative branches as well as on the regional level?
Russia is anything but free: It might have been something approaching a democracy in the ’90s, but now it’s no better than a petty third world dictatorship.
The Russian government forced numerous Georgians living in Russia onto cargo planes and dumped them into Georgia shortly after the conflict began, killing several in the process (due to lack of access to their medications). Or the part where ethnic Georgians were kicked out of Russian schools? There’s nothing to drive away. Russia views itself as a superpower and gets offended any time someone dares to suggest that it doesn’t have the right to control all of its neighbors.
Stop treating Russia as a friend, put more energy and resources into finding a way to become less dependent on Russian oil and gas (mainly the latter for now), persuade sympathetic countries to reduce their business interests in Russia, and put pressure on other countries to not buy Russian arms. This surge in Russian power is temporary. It can be waited out.
Chris Patten was the first Governor who actually cared about trying to bring democracy to Hong Kong. Unlike most of his predecessor(s) who were ’sinologists,’ which meant they just kowtowed to Peking, he actually stood up for Hong Kong, Patten’s experience would be useful in the Balkans – Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Moldova – and Turkey, all of which are pushing for EU membership to a greater or lesser extent. Not to mention some of the Caucasian and Central Asian countries that are members of the Council of Europe, and could down the line become candidate countries – or the elephant in the European room that is Belarus, the last dictatorship on the continent.
In Chris Patten’s book (Not Quite The Diplomat) he suggests the Tories have saddled themselves with a Eurosceptic ideology for no good reason, something that I’d agree with, his Europhile sentiment and his experience within the commission make him the perfect man to slide into this role. Firstly ,because of his experience of EU institutions and dealings with each of the member states, but also when the Tories come into government they’ll be dealing with someone they can relate to, lending a plaster to the Eurosceptic position of some MEP’s like Daniel Hannan, and the grassroots and lead the Conservative party into a position within Europe that would silence those that claim the party are on the fringe